JULY 30, 1947
CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, N.B., Tuesday—In reading quotations from Russian papers in our papers, I find that, in the way they express their attitude against the United States, they strangely resemble some of our papers in their attitude against Russia. The difference, of course, is that the Russian papers are government-controlled and therefore supposedly represent the government point of view, whereas our papers, thank goodness, represent only the point of view of their owners and editors. Undoubtedly they also represent the thinking of a considerable group of people, since they have large circulations, but it is not the official point of view.
The readers of our newspapers sometimes do not read the news at all, and when they do, they sometimes do not believe what they read. I once asked a man why he read a certain New York City paper, when he was expressing to me such completely different political views from those held by the paper. He looked at me and said: "The sports sheet is good and that is the only page I really read, except perhaps some of the comic strips. They have some of the best in this paper." That remark was illuminating.
The Russian people are at a great disadvantage, of course, because they have only the government-controlled papers to read. They have only government-controlled radio. And so, if they want to be independent-thinking citizens, there is really very little hope of getting any point of view except the one the Government wishes them to have.
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I am a little mystified by one item which I saw recently—that the four Austrian Communist deputies in the National Assembly in Vienna have been informed by Stalin that the Austrian war prisoners will all be returned by the end of this year. It was my understanding that all the great powers had agreed that all war prisoners should be returned home within a year, so this piece of news seems a little odd.
It is particularly hard on the families of war prisoners who have been taken into the USSR, because no news seems to come from them to the people in other countries. Those families wait for the return of both civilians and soldiers with great anxiety, since they will not know until that return has finally come about whether the people for whom they wait have died or are to be back in their own homes eventually.